Best and Worst from MLS Week 8
Week 8 in MLS served as a reminder of many things. Landon Donovan prompted our World Cup memories. A pair of supporters groups reminded us that we are all one.
FC Dallas continued their ascendancy over MLS competition. The Hoops now sit comfortably atop the Supporters’ Shield standings with 19 points. The Chicago Fire returned to the win column, while Adam Jahn salvaged a point at home with his late-game heroics.
But that wasn’t enough to make the best and worst from Week 8 in MLS. Read on to find out who made the list.
Best: A United Front
There are few moments in sports that extend beyond a scoreline. Saturday’s pre-match display of solidarity between a pair of East Coast rivals is one of them.
Before Dax McCarty’s scintillating strike in the fourth minute, before Thierry Henry’s breathtaking finish in the 82nd minute, before a single minute was played, members of the South Ward and the Fort were one.
Behind a unifying tifo that read “New York stands with Boston,” members of the South Ward and the Fort marched into Red Bull Arena side by side.
Colors, match reports and rivalry were thrown aside—if only for a moment.
This was more than a soccer match. This was one community—familiar with tragedy—attempting to aid in the healing of another.
By no means will Saturday’s display erase a week of tragic events that maliciously took innocent lives and injured hundreds more. But Saturday’s display of solidarity did show the world that as a soccer community, as a nation, we all share the resolve to overcome and triumph in the face of evil.
A soccer match was played. The New England Revolution conceded a combined two goals through the first five games of the season. The New York Red Bulls netted four in 90 minutes, taking the contest 4-1.
Worst: Chivas USA's Character
It's called "adversity" for a reason. True character is revealed when things go awry.
Unfortunately for Chivas USA, that character was revealed at Rio Tinto Stadium Saturday night.
Chivas showed the same grit and tenacity that allowed the team to accumulate a surprising 10 points through the first six games. But as things started to unravel late in the game, so did the Goats.
A time-wasting substitution in the second minute of stoppage time triggered a peevish response from Jose Luis “El Chelis” Sanchez Sola. Some choice words were aimed in the direction of Javier Morales as he walked off the pitch. Those choice words escalated into an argument with Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis.
But El Chelis’ childish display did not end there. The rookie head coach and his staff made their way into the locker rooms well before the final whistle.
Edgar Mejia would join them moments later with an errant forearm shiver to the face of Ned Grabavoy.
Mejia was shown red. After back-to-back 1-0 losses, the Goats have shown their true character.
Grabavoy shared his thoughts on Mejia's red-card situation following the match (per the team's official website):
I think he just came late. He’s knows I’ve got great touch on it, so he just sold all out at that point, took his forearm up to my neck section. That’s just whatever, it happens in games, and it is what it is.
Best: Seattle Finds the Win Column
The Emerald City was able to breathe a collective sigh of relief Saturday afternoon. Finally, the Seattle Sounders have found the win column.
Seattle narrowly defeated the Colorado Rapids 1-0 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. It was by no means a convincing result. Colorado out-shot (16 to 10) and out-possessed (57.9 percent to 42.1) the Sounders but were unable to equalize.
But a win is a win, especially when you’re as desperately talented as the Sounders.
Only time will tell if Saturday’s result was enough to springboard Seattle to the top of the heap in MLS. But for now, the Sounders will relish a much-needed three points in the standings.
Worst: Jermaine Taylor's Red Card
There are questionable red cards, and then there’s Jermaine Taylor’s red in the 62nd minute of Saturday’s 1-1 draw.
After Luis Silva sent a perfect ball over the top, Taylor and Robert Earnshaw jostled for position in the middle of a foot race. Both players made contact in pursuit of a 50/50 ball.
Apparently, it was too much contact for Earnshaw to handle.
Understanding the situation—that Taylor was the last man back—the Welshman skillfully fell to the ground. The foul called the attention of Drew Fischer, who forced Taylor to hit the showers 28 minutes earlier than anticipated.
Earnshaw laid the bait. Fischer took it.
Dynamo defender Warren Creavalle shared his thoughts on the red card following the match. It mirrored the professionalism synonymous with a Dominic Kinnear-coached team (per the team’s official website). "The referee made a decision and there is nothing we could do about it," Creavalle said.
But Creavalle did do something about it during the match. His flicked-on header in the fourth minute of stoppage time erased what was another poor performance on the road from the Dynamo.
Toronto FC bullied the Orange Crush for 90 minutes—out-shooting (16 to seven) and out-possessing (53.4 percent to 46.6) the Dynamo in the process. But with a 1-1 scoreline, those statistics mean nothing.
It suffices to say that both teams walked out of BMO Field wanting a better result.
Best: Captain America Returns
As a city, Seattle celebrates. But as a nation, America rejoices.
Landon Donovan is back...well, sort of.
Captain America put together a complete 90-minute performance for the first time since returning to the L.A. Galaxy.
Donovan’s form was inspiring. He was masterful. He was everything American soccer fans remembered.
His near-assist in the 25th minute was world class. His outside run and assist on Marcelo Sarvas’ goal in the 28th minute was better. But returning to the scoring column is the moment every American waited for.
He delivered in the 74th minute.
Donovan still has a ways to go before restoring his World Cup form, but the American icon has shown progress in every match since his return.
Saturday night will prove to be his breakthrough moment for the 2013 campaign.
As great as it was to see Donovan return to the scoring column, the majority of the credit for his goal belongs to Robbie Keane. The Irishman was masterful in shedding Paulo Nagamura, sparking a fast break and assisting Donovan’s strike.
Best and Worst: Jack Mac and D.C. United
While it would be easy to solely report on D.C. United’s current standing, Jack McInerney’s scorching form is worthy of acknowledgement.
Some herald him as the “American Chicharito.” That remains to be seen. But the 20-year-old McInerney is the flavor of the month that has American soccer fans salivating.
Six starts. Six goals. 21 shots. But more importantly, one nation aroused with what appears to be a promising future.
From Eastern Conference finalist to the bottom of the Eastern Conference. This is hardly the start D.C. head coach Ben Olsen hoped for.
With just four points through seven matches, the Black and Red consistently leave the pitch black and blue.
United managed to find the back of the net Sunday afternoon—doubling their goal total in just 90 minutes—but this time it was the defense that failed to show up.
As Coach Olsen pointed out after the match, the team has yet to put it together for a complete 90 (per the team’s official website):
We’re having trouble putting together full games, where the offense is doing their part and the defense is doing what they do, and that’s kind of been the theme. Today offensively, I thought we created a lot of chances and we were dynamic at times and that’s a positive. But the way we started a game, that’s just unacceptable. It’s very alarming that we started the way we started. I guess I can sit here and take blame, sure. I don’t know, but we’ll get back to work and we’ll search for a complete game.
DC better find that "complete game" fast. The rest of the Eastern Conference is pulling away.
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